Photo credit: Gript

The Citywest Riot is a warning for the future

If you happened to be listening to the Irish news yesterday morning, then you will be intimately acquainted with the latest scandal rocking the nation. As Gavan Reilly of Virgin Media reported (with no less than two accompanying klaxon icons), it is not entirely clear whether Paschal Donohoe, when he received the loan of a van worth €434 in the 2020 election, was either €234 over the corporate donation limit (€200) or €666 under the personal donation limit (€1,000):

Was it a corporate donation? Was it a personal donation? The fate of the Minister’s career, apparently, hangs in the balance, depending on the answer.

While this farce proceeds, almost nobody in the media or the political class has anything to say about the objectively much more concerning scenes in what used to be the Citywest Hotel and is now the “Citywest Migrant Transit Hub” outside Dublin. Two people have been treated in hospital. Amateur footage showed dozens of Garda and Emergency Services vehicles at the scene. Unverified, but convincing footage allegedly from inside the facility showed a full-scale riot.

Let me pause here to note that had the scenes allegedly from inside the “Transit Hub” been replicated at, say, a protest against excessive immigration, the Irish media would presently be on day two of a five-alarm panic about far-right violence and terrorism. As it is, overt violence inside one of these centres makes no more than a minor column on page 15 of the average Irish newspaper, if it makes the paper at all. No room, you see. The Media is Full….. of Paschal.

But in any case, it is worth underlining the ever present double standard: Violence from one group of people is a minor incident which the Gardai have under control and is an isolated and regrettable incident barely worth discussing. But violence from or involving another group (think back to that lockdown protest, at which there were scuffles, in March 2021) is evidence of the rise of violent right wing extremism, necessitating at minimum an RTE Prime Time special.

In truth, both incidents were (or in the case of Citiwest, appear to have been) fairly minor. But the incident in Citiwest should really be a warning sign, and raise serious questions about Irish policy.

Insofar as we can tell, Irish immigration policy, and accommodation policy, takes no account of obvious differences in the types of migrant which might be accommodated in various facilities. Gript has learned, for example, of cases where homosexual men, fleeing alleged persecution in their home countries, have been accommodated with deeply conservative people from cultures where homosexuality is also frowned upon, but who are fleeing for allegedly different reasons, like war or sectarian persecution. Once they get to Ireland, the gay people are then accommodated, in many instances, with people who have a deep cultural and religious hostility to homosexuality. That is just one example.

Ironically, a country which celebrates diversity until the cows come home appears to take no account whatever of diversity between migrant groups. The one and only diversity that seems to matter is between Irish people, and everyone else. This is an attitude that has been imported from other countries which have gone down this road, and ended up – Paris being the classic example – with racially distinct and often mutually hostile ghettos.

This underlines a concern that many people have, and they should not feel racist for articulating it: That this policy of mass immigration (which is what it now is) is not only unlimited, but directionless. There is no vision at all for how many of these distinct and diverse groups will integrate and cope with a society that is often radically different from the one that they have left. If European experience is replicated here, then some of these groups will, in time, react to Irish society with utter hostility. One need only look at the experiences of France and Belgium, respectively, with their ongoing problems with Islamist Terrorism, to see that problem in action.

There is a fantasy in Ireland, or at least in the higher echelons of state, that all of those accommodated like cattle in “migrant transport hubs” will emerge as grateful and productive demographics in Irish society. Ironically, there is also an idea that we have an obligation to treat them better than many Irish emigrants were treated when they went abroad.

I come back, once more, to RTE platforming the convicted killer Steo Wall, with his song “more blacks, more dogs, more Irish”. That song is intended to convey to us that Irish people, in the past, often suffered horrific discrimination and abuse in the societies they emigrated to. “We are better than that”, the song is supposed to tell us.

But are we? (And by we, I mean, the Irish State)

Are we not, after all, accommodating people in effective ghettos already? Are we not insulting them, by treating them all the same, and taking no account of their differences? Are people who spend months or years in direct provision, with nothing, really going to emerge in twenty years telling their children stories of how well they were treated when they first arrived in Ireland?

I confess myself sceptical. I think we are importing people who will, in time, come to deeply resent us, and hold to their own myths about the treatment they received at the hands of the Irish state. I doubt sorely that they will see us as our friends.

We are repeating mistakes that have been made by other countries before us. But it cannot be talked about, or debated. Not when Paschal Donohoe might have under-declared a donation by two hundred and thirty four euros.

And twenty cents.

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